SeeAbility charity slams NHS saying 127 children in Havering with learning disabilities not getting eye tests

PUBLISHED: 10:00 02 May 2018

L-R: Mum Alyson Farrell with daughter Ellie and SeeAbility boss Lisa Hopkins. Picture: SEEABILITY

L-R: Mum Alyson Farrell with daughter Ellie and SeeAbility boss Lisa Hopkins. Picture: SEEABILITY


Children with learning disabilities are missing out on eye tests and the NHS is dragging its heels dealing with it, a charity said.

SeeAbility optometrist Lisa Donaldson (middle) during an eye test. Picture: SEEABILITYSeeAbility optometrist Lisa Donaldson (middle) during an eye test. Picture: SEEABILITY

The study by learning disability and sight loss charity SeeAbility estimates 127 youngsters in the borough don’t have a history of regular eye examinations.

SeeAbility boss Lisa Hopkins said: “Many children are living life in a total blur. This goes on to affect their entire lives.

“We implore NHS England to stop dragging its heels and introduce reforms. This is a major health inequality NHS England has a responsibility to address and fund appropriately.”

The study suggests thousands of children with learning disabilities in UK special schools miss out on eye tests despite being 28 times more likely to have a serious sight problem than other children.

Every youngster under 19 in full time education is entitled to a free NHS eye test.

However, children with learning disabilities often can’t cope with standard high street or hospital eye tests with parents often at a loss as to where to go for a test their children can manage, according to SeeAbility.

But children with severe learning disabilities or autism – which make communicating difficult – can still have an eye test if changes are made.

The charity said it is “a common misconception” reading a letter chart is necessary or a child needs to be able to speak to have their eyes tested.

It urged the NHS to act on its calls to spend more on tests adapted for learning disability youngsters.

A spokeswoman said NHS England is working with SeeAbility and the Department of Health and Social Care to improve test access including steps needed to provide “a more consistent” service.

She added while NHS England commissions sight tests under government regulations, significant changes need to be regulated by the DHSC.

The charity took the percentage of children in London using its services in the last four years whose parents responded to its survey – 43 per cent – and applied it to the number of youngsters who go to Havering Council funded special schools – 291 according to SeeAbility.

The charity received a grant from DHSC in 2016 towards research into the effects of regular eye tests on children in special schools.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 17:00

Rainham and Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas has called for the prime minister to “move over and allow Labour to secure a deal that works for working people” after she called off a Parliamentary vote on her Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Yesterday, 15:04

A Hornchurch theatre will be getting into the festive spirit this December by hosting a special Christmas Fayre fundraiser.

Yesterday, 14:03

Longer weekday late evening trains are being put on the Fenchurch Street network through east London and Essex to help Christmas shoppers and partygoers get back home.

Yesterday, 13:00

A Collier Row widower has been invited to speak about his wife’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at the House of Commons by Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Yesterday, 10:01

Members from a Harold Hill archery club donated food, festive items and hygiene products to their local foodbank.

Yesterday, 08:54

Around 20 firefighters were called to a blaze at a disused landfill site in Rainham.

Yesterday, 07:21

Rail services were disrupted after a person was hit by a train at Romford Station.

Yesterday, 07:00

Havering Council has 2,000 tonnes of salt, a fleet of gritters and a snow plough all at the ready to tackle the cold weather expected to hit in the next month.


From November, The Mercury in Romford begins to celebrate Christmas. The mall has plenty of gift ideas, fun events and activities for everyone

Vauxhall has completed its sport utility vehicle range with the third, and largest, Grandland X. We put the SUV, now available at Tony LeVoi in Romford, to the test.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining,” so the saying goes. So if some warm weather is making your conservatory uninhabitable, think about replacing its roof with a flat one and adding a roof lantern instead.

Newsletter Sign Up

Romford Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

News from your area

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now